Know More About Leukemia

Leukemia is the formation of cancer cells in the body’s lymphatic system. It could include bone marrow or blood-forming cells. The white blood cells are responsible for boosting the body’s immune system. Usually, these divide and replicate according to the body’s needs. In the cases of cancer, the bone marrow produces many white blood cells that function abnormally. The treatment for leukemia is decided on the basis of the stage that it has reached.

Causes of leukemia

No perfect reason is known for leukemia’s development in the body. A combination of genetic and environmental factors can be considered one of the potential reasons.

  • The major reason behind the development of leukemia is the modification in the cell’s DNA that guides it to undergo multiplication and divides rapidly. These cells slowly start replacing and crushing the healthy cells. The number of white blood cells decreases, and an imbalance starts to create in the body.
  • Genetic disorders like Schwachman-Diamond syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome, Down syndrome, and neurofibromatosis are also common factors that lead to an increased risk of leukemia.
  • Any smoking history or exposure to passive smoking increases the chances of developing leukemia.
  • Getting in contact with certain industrial chemicals like benzene or formaldehyde might not be good for the body and increases the risk of leukemia.

Types of Leukemia

Depending on how quickly the cells divide, cancer can be of two types:
In the cases of acute leukemia, the cells that undergo division are incapable of normal functioning. These lead to causing more damage to the body much more quickly. One can experience weakness within weeks after its development. The types require immediate therapies and attention.
During chronic leukemia, the cancer cells behave either like mature or immature cells. The disease worsens much slower than acute leukemia. The symptoms of chronic leukemia may not be observed soon.
Based on cell type, it is of two types:


This type of leukemia develops from the myeloid cells. The normal myeloid cells begin transforming into red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells.

Lymphocytic leukemia

It develops from lymphoid cells. These cells start developing into white blood cells that are responsible for immunity.
Lymphocytic leukemia is further of 4 types:

  • Acute lymphocyte leukemia

Occurring in teens, children, and young adults, it is the most common type of leukemia. 

  • Acute myelogenous leukemia

It is usually observed in older adults and rarely occurs among children. 

  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia

It is the most common type of chronic leukemia that generally occurs in people aged above 65 years. 

  • Chronic myelogenous leukemia

It is common in people aged above 65 years. It rarely occurs in children.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Shortness of breath
  • Pale skin
  • Getting tired easily and frequently
  • Joint pain
  • Pain under the ribs
  • Night sweats
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes in the groin, neck, or underarm
  • Enlarged liver or spleen
  • Nose bleeds, darkened skin patches
  • Frequent infections


The doctor performs physical examinations that include asking out for symptoms and examining any lumps or masses. The doctor also asks if the gums are swollen or bleeding

Blood cell examination involves taking blood samples to analyze the cell count and functioning of the body. A CBC test is used to determine if there is an odd number of red blood cells. Some additional tests could be peripheral blood smear and flow cytometry.

During the biopsy, the sample from bone marrow is taken to get tested in the lab for the presence of cancerous cells. It helps determine the percentage of abnormal cells in the bone marrow and their development speed.

Imaging tests like X-rays, CT scans, MRI, and PET, are performed to know what is happening inside the body organs.

A spinal tap or lumbar puncture involves getting a sample of spinal fluids to be accessed for the presence of tumor cells.

Side effects of such procedures

The treatments pose some risks of side effects that could be experienced by the patient. Based on the body’s immunity and strength, the intensity of the same could be different.

  • Radiotherapy and chemotherapy are common cancer treatments that may cause side effects. Chemotherapy may lead to the destruction of normal healthy cells and hair follicles. The patient may have to deal with digestive and reproductive issues as well.
  • Targeted therapy might cause issues like mouth sores, trouble wound healing, nail changes, dry skin or rashes, fatigue, loss of hair color, and others.
  • Immunotherapy could lead to vomiting, nausea, joint aches, fatigue, chills, fever, dizziness, weakness, or headache.
  • Bone marrow transplant might lead to an increased risk of infection and mouth and throat pain. There could be graft failure, graft-versus-host disease, or hepatic venous-occlusive disease.


The treatments for leukemia are:


  • Chemotherapy is performed with the help of some chemicals that move through the body. These target the tumor cells and destroy them. They can be taken in the form of capsules or injections. A combination of chemotherapy drugs can be used to perform the treatment.
  • Radiotherapy uses protons or X-rays to kill the tumor cells. Either the machine is directed toward the tumor (external radiation), or a tiny device is placed at the affected area for a set duration of time where it radiates continuously and aims at the tumor cells.
  • Targeted therapy is done to target a specific gene or a protein that promotes the development of cancer cells. It may cut off the blood supply to the tumor cells. Immunotherapy injects certain drugs into your body that boost the body’s immune system and help identify the cancer cells and fight them.
  • Chimeric antigen receptor therapy or T-cell therapy includes picking up the T cells and making them capable of fighting the disease.

Bone marrow transplant

Apart from this, a bone marrow transplant can also be performed that involves replacing cancerous cells with healthy hematopoietic cells. The healthy new cells could be taken from the blood before radiotherapy or chemotherapy, or they might be taken from the donor.

Why consider Ayurveda?

Ayurveda helps to boost the immunity levels of the human body. It believes in the natural benefits of medicinal herbs and helps reduce the symptoms of the disease. Ayurveda looks for the imbalances created in the body and works on restoring them.

Consumption of the right diet while dealing with cancer becomes important. This field of medicine promotes consuming ‘Satvik Aahar’ that provides more health to the body. Ayurveda prevents deterioration in the body. Lavish and spicy food items should be avoided while dealing with the symptoms of cancer.

Consumption of more nutritious food like fruits, leafy vegetables, and nuts should be preferred. It works on the disease and targets its root cause. They have proved beneficial in limiting the imbalance caused in the body due to unwanted division of the cells.

Use of several therapies has been known in Ayurveda like Panchkarma therapies, cupping therapy, massage therapy, and the use of products like Guggul, curcumin, ashwagandha, Chander Prabha Vati are known to be beneficial in the cases of cancer. These herbs enhance the internal purification process and offer varied healing methods to the individual.